Against odds, woman shows signs of recovery after contracting flesh-eating bacteria
May 10, 2012
Despite the odds of survival being "slim to none," Aimee Copeland, the 24-year-old University of West Georgia graduate student battling a deadly flesh-eating virus, is showing signs of recovery and is still fighting to survive.
"Aimee has made drastic improvements today," Andy Copeland, Aimee's father, told FoxNews.com. "Yesterday, she had some setbacks. She was really on the ventilator 100 percent, but now she's only requiring 60 percent of the ventilator, and last night she moved her arms."
Copeland also said Aimee's digestive system is showing signs of improvement, which the doctors told him is an extremely good sign.
"When you're in this state, your intestines can actually atrophy," Copeland said. "So you're wondering, 'Will her intestines actually work?' Well her intestines are working just fine."
Aimee has even started moving and opening her eyes, just small miracles for the Copeland family.
"She's a little agitated, but she's showing more signs of her personality," Copeland said. "She's restrained, so she started to get angry, but she responded to me as I tried to soothe her. These are just small things, but really mean so much."
Unfortunately, despite the improvements Aimee has made the past couple of days, Copeland said she still faces a big uphill battle.
“The bacteria that attacked her has basically shut her capillaries down,” Copeland explained. “So it appears that because of the combination of the bacteria and medication she’s taking, we'll probably have to remove her hands from her wrist, as well as her foot. It's something we'll have to get over, but it's something we're going to miss.”
“We’re really just glad to have her alive, because she has such a beautiful mind,” Copeland added.
The whole ordeal started for Aimee when a zip lining accident went from bad to much, much worse. Just one week ago, Aimee was enjoying a trip kayaking down a creek with some of her friends in Carrollton, Ga. But when she stopped to ride on a homemade zip line along the water, the line snapped and cut a large gash in her left calf.
Initially, Aimee had gone to the emergency room at the Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton on Tuesday after she had received the gash. She thought the ordeal was over after the doctors stapled her leg up with 22 staples and told her to take pain medication, according to her father.
But Aimee returned to the hospital Wednesday after she continued to complain of severe pain in her leg. She was prescribed pain killers and sent home yet again.
The pain still did not subside, so a friend drove a “pale and weak” Aimee to Tanner Medical again Friday morning. When she arrived, an ER doctor diagnosed her with necrotizing fasciitis – a flesh-eating bacteria disorder of the deep layers of the skin – in her damaged leg. The bacteria had entered Aimee's body through the gash she had received during the zip lining accident...
Rare Flesh-Eating Disease Caused by Common Bacteria
By KATIE MOISSE
May 10, 2012
..."The symptom that should ring alarm bells is serious, unremitting pain," said Schaffner, describing how the bacteria can, under rare circumstances, burrow deep into a wound and dissolve muscle and other tissue.
Doctors sent Copeland home with a prescription for painkillers, according to her Father, Andy, but the pain persisted. Copeland returned to the hospital the following day and was released again, this time with antibiotics. On Friday, three full days after the zip line accident, Copeland was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis and her left leg was amputated at the hip.
"It's a miracle she made it past Friday night," Andy Copeland told ABC affiliate WSBTV.
The two main treatments for necrotizing fasciitis disease are antibiotics and surgery to remove the infected tissue, Schaffner said, stressing that bacteria left behind can cause a deadly blood infection...